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In the northeast of California, near Lake Tahoe, is Donner Memorial State Park. This park is near the border shared between California and Nevada, between the Tahoe National Forest and the cities of Carson City and Reno, in Nevada. Donner Memorial State Park marks the site of the ill-fated Donner Party, a group of explorers who were trapped by weather during the winter of 1846-1847. When you book an RV in Nevada County, you’ll be able to see this park and more during your trip.
Contained within the park are both the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument, both of which are dedicated to travelers who braved the Emigrant Trail through the mountains. This park covers over 3,000 acres and was established in 1928 and is a registered National Historic Landmark. There is an onsite monument with a placard that honors the Donner Party, known as the Pioneer Statue.
Spending time in the Sierra Nevada mountains camping with an RV is a gorgeous way to pass the time, and RV camping at Donner Memorial State Park will come along with plenty of activities to keep you entertained. One of the main perks of camping at this park is the extensive hiking surrounding the park. There are hiking trails of many difficulties, so everyone from beginner to expert hikers will find something that suits their skill and endurance level.
Aside from hiking, a visit to the onsite Historical Visitor Center is a fantastic way to learn about the park you are camping in. This visitor center has exhibits on the Donner Party, in addition to exhibits on early railroad history and other early pioneers who braved the mountains to make it to the west coast of the US. Camping at Donner Memorial State Park will put you within walking distance of the Visitor Center.
The onsite Donner Lake is also a fabulous place to spend some time while renting an RV in the area. This lake has a boat ramp to allow you to get your boat in the water, or instead of bringing a boat, it is possible to rent one at the lake for added convenience. The lake is large enough that water sports are allowed, and there is also a designated swimming area.
The state park RV campgrounds at Donner Memorial State Park can accommodate more than 150 RVs at once, but reserving your site ahead of time is still recommended. After you sort out the details of your RV rental, call the campsite or visit them online to book a site in advance and save yourself the stress and trouble. The maximum RV allowed to camp at the park is 28 feet, and the campgrounds are typically open from the end of May through the end of September.
Campsites are split between three different loops, the Ridge Loop, the Creek loop, and the Splitrock loop. While the Creek loop is a bit closer to Michelis Pond, both the Splitrock loop and Ridge loop are closer to Donner Lake than the Creek loop. All campsites in this campground have access to centrally located drinking water, bathroom facilities, dump stations, and a ranger station with onsite staff to answer questions.
When visiting Donner Memorial State Park during the cold, snowy season, the nearby ski resorts provide a great place to seek out entertainment. Donner Ski Ranch, Sugar Bowl Resort, Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort, Boreal Ridge Ski Resort, and more all have chair lifts and diverse runs to entertain the whole family. Just be aware that the campsites at Donner Memorial State Park are not open during the winter, so you’ll need to seek accommodations elsewhere during this time.
The city of Truckee, which is one of the closest to Donner Memorial State Park, has plenty to offer guests. When you camp in an RV near Truckee, be sure to check out the Historic Downtown Truckee & Visitor Center, which is located in the middle of town. This destination will provide historical insight into the town, the surrounding region, and the human history that has developed here.
Larger cities can be found just east of the Nevada-California border, including Reno and Carson City. Between these two large destinations, you’ll be able to find plenty of restaurants, museums, and modern entertainment options to keep the whole family busy. There is also an international airport in Reno, which should make it easy to fly in and rent an RV to start your vacation in this part of the country.